Watch CBS News

Nationwide school librarian shortage costing New York City students valuable lessons, educators say

School librarian shortage hitting New York City
School librarian shortage hitting New York City 02:30

NEW YORK -- Back when she was a student at St. Luke Catholic Elementary School in Whitestone, Caitlin McDonagh found magic on the bookshelves of the school library.

"This library is very near and dear to my heart," she said.

Years later, she's back, now as the librarian.

"If you find the right genre or subject that you love, you will become a lifelong reader," she said.

Studies show students tend to perform better academically with a certified librarian in school.

But parents and educators say too many students are missing out.

While New York City public high schools with more than 700 students are mandated by the state to have a full-time librarian, a Chalkbeat analysis found that nearly a third had none listed on their most recent budget.

"Schools that don't have us don't know what they're missing," Townsend Harris High School librarian Arlene Laverde said.

She says school librarians not only teach information literacy and research skills but also help with resumes and job applications.

Rosedale parent Michael Duncan says the lack of a librarian was one of the reasons he switched his son out of public school.

"It's like our children are set up to fail," he said.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards says the shortage is part of why he's investing $30 million of his capital budget into schools.

In a statement, New York City's Department of Education acknowledged its librarian training program, saying in part, "The Teacher2Librarian program seeks to mitigate the national school librarian shortage ..."

But some say it's not enough.

"We can give you librarians. Now, you've got to hire them," Laverde said. "Without a librarian, you do not have a library. You have a room filled with books."

You can email Elle with Queens story ideas by CLICKING HERE

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.